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When does being critical become being mean-spirited?

I wonder if being critical can become being mean-spirited.  I thought I was on the borderline with my remark about Leslie Mann’s character in This is Forty.  I called her character grating.  Was that mean-spirited?  (It might have unfair because I’ve only see the promos.)  I don’t think so but  her real life daughters are playing her daughters in the movie.  Does that make her character a variation of her real self?  My criticism was meant to be about her character, not her personally.

Also my comment about Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers #1 could have been a bit of a cheap shot.  I didn’t  mean it to be but it might have been one.  I wrote that I had more fun typing “Menace from Mars” than I did reading the issue.  (The second issue was a bit more fun to be fair.)

I do like Roger Ebert’s negative reviews and I enjoyed counting the number of times he used ‘hate” or “hated” in his review of North.  I think he used “hate” or  “hated”  twelve times.  Was that mean-spirited?  I am not sure but he really hated that movie and  I am sure he knew that people would notice how often he used the word “hated”.

People like Simon Cowell for his brutal honesty/cruelty towards contestants on his shows (first at American Idol and now at the X-Factor).   I am not a fan but I’ve seen enough promos and his brutal honesty/cruelty seems to be what the network is selling.

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